Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Comolli appointment a step into the sabermetrics unknown for Liverpool

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SOCCER-EUROPAThe appointment of Damien Comolli as Liverpool’s director of football strategy represents a step into the unknown for the Anfield club, with statistical analysis likely to replace the traditional eye for talent in the transfer market.

Comolli, like the club’s new owner John Henry, is a devotee of sabermetrics, a form of sporting number crunching used to judge the value of players.

The approach, developed in America, replaces the traditional intuition of coaches with complicated algorithms and aims to unearth rough diamonds plying their trade outside of the limelight.

What this means for Roy Hodgson is unclear.

The Liverpool manager insists his fingers have not been loosened from the levers of power, but a club statement clearly spelled out that the Frenchman’s remit covered scouting, player recruitment and player development.

Champions League podcast – 4

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Kevin Fylan is joined by Owen Wyatt, Mark Meadows, Jon Bramley and Martyn Herman for a look at the week’s Champions League matches. Will Real Madrid be too much for AC Milan? Our panel seems to think so.

Listen!

Inter 4-3 Spurs. The loopiest game I’ve ever seen

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/I’ve seen quite a lot of soccer in my time but never have I attended a match as crazy as Inter Milan v Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Wednesday.

For those who missed it, here’s a very quick rundown of the main incidents.

Champions League podcast, episode 3

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This week the podcast panel discuss the clash of European aristocracy at the Bernabeu, where nine-times winners Real Madrid host seven-tiems champions AC Milan, plus the Wayne Rooney saga and the plight of Liverpool.

Kevin Fylan is joined by Owen Wyatt, Mark Meadows, Jon Bramley and Toby Davis

Is Liverpool the right choice for Joe Cole?

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England midfielder Joe Cole sprang a slight surprise by choosing to sign for Liverpool rather than other suitors such as Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

The cynics are saying it is all to do with money and not about prestige given Liverpool will not be in the Champions League next season unlike the other two.

Should Capello bring Carragher out of England retirement?

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/Is Fabio Capello so short of defenders that he has to beg Jamie “I’d rather miss a penalty for England than Liverpool” Carragher to come out of retirement and represent his country at the World Cup?

Carragher walked out on England three years ago because he was unhappy at being in so many squads but so few teams, and when he was in he did not like being played at full-back when he wanted to play centre-back.

Spurs seize their “now or never” opportunity

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It was a case of “now or never” for Tottenham this season as, if they had failed to snatch fourth place and a passport to the Champions League, they might never had had another shot.

Crashing the “big four” has been the target of half-a-dozen clubs in the last decade and Spurs went close with two fifth-placed finishes in 2006 and 07.

North London derby offers little hope to prediction paupers (UPDATE)

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******Monday morning update, by Kevin Fylan: This was the weekend that the Reuters Soccer Blog panel struck back. Mark Meadows managed a stonking 22 points from the 10 games, the first time we’ve really had a score to shout about. Can anyone beat that? Leader Patrick Johnston got a solid 13, while Neil Maidment has made a great leap forward with 18. In any other week, Neil…******Remember, you bag five points for getting the score spot on, and just one if you got the result right but the wrong score. Here’s our updated league table. Where do you stand?******Reuters Soccer Blog panel: Patrick Johnston 105, Mitch Phillips 89, Paul Radford 87, Mike Collett 76, Simon Evans 74, Mark Meadows 72, Kevin Fylan 71, Miles Evans 70, Julien Pretot 69, Neil Maidment 62, Asia Sports Desk 53, Justin Palmer 38, Martyn Herman 20, Sonia Oxley 10 (plus belated bonus from last week, =15)******Original post from Friday: It’s that time of the week again. Yes time to humiliate ourselves by hopelessly trying to guess which Liverpool side will turn up, how many players will be out with swine flu and whether Dimitar Berbatov will actually resemble the good player he is supposed to be.******Apart from Mitch Phillips, who downright cheated, last weekend’s Premier League predictions contest was a sad tale of woe for all and this time it looks just as tricky.******Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur is always a feisty affair, just ask any North Londoner (not that there will be many on the pitch). ******Even avid Spurs fans (you know who you are) would be hard pressed to deny that Arsenal play the most beautiful football in England but Tottenham are seriously threatening to break into that top four this term and what better way to show your worth that to win away at the Gunners.******The derby will be our double pointer for this week. Remember one point for the correct result and a massive five for the correct score.******Below are the running scores for our not-so-expert panel at Reuters Soccer Blog Heights followed by this weekend’s fixtures and our predictions. Please play along in the comments and see if you can rival our top contributors like Chipking, Sean and maid.******Playing Saturday:******Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur: Patrick Johnston 5-2, Mitch Phillips 2-2, Paul Radford 2-0, Simon Evans 1-2, Mike Collett 2-3, Kevin Fylan 2-4, Miles Evans 3-1, Julien Pretot 3-1, Mark Meadows 1-1, Asia Sports Desk 3-1, Neil Maidment 2-1, Justin Palmer 2-2, Martyn Herman 3-1, Soxley 2-2******Bolton Wanderers v Chelsea: Patrick Johnston 1-2, Mitch Phillips 1-1, Paul Radford 0-3, Simon Evans 1-2, Mike Collett 0-2, Kevin Fylan 1-2, Miles Evans 2-2, Julien Pretot 0-2, Mark Meadows 1-2, Asia Sports Desk 1-3, Neil Maidment 0-2, Justin Palmer 1-1, Martyn Herman 0-2, Soxley 0-2******Burnley v Hull City: Patrick Johnston 2-0, Mitch Phillips 2-1, Paul Radford 2-0, Simon Evans 3-2, Mike Collett 4-1, Kevin Fylan 2-1, Miles Evans 1-1, Julien Pretot 1-1, Mark Meadows 2-0, Asia Sports Desk 1-2, Neil Maidment 2-0, Justin Palmer 1-1, Martyn Herman 2-1, Soxley 1-1 ******Everton v Aston Villa: Patrick Johnston 1-1, Mitch Phillips 1-1, Paul Radford 1-2, Simon Evans 1-2, Mike Collett 1-2, Kevin Fylan 1-0, Miles Evans 2-2, Julien Pretot 1-1, Mark Meadows1-1, Asia Sports Desk 1-2, Neil Maidment 1-1, Justin Palmer 2-0, Martyn Herman 2-2, Soxley 1-1            ******Fulham v Liverpool: Patrick Johnston 1-0, Mitch Phillips 2-2, Paul Radford 1-2, Simon Evans 0-1, Mike Collett 1-2, Kevin Fylan 2-1, Miles Evans 0-1, Julien Pretot 1-2, Mark Meadows 1-1, Asia Sports Desk 1-4, Neil Maidment 1-2, Justin Palmer 2-3, Martyn Herman 2-1, Soxley 0-2            ******Portsmouth v Wigan Athletic: Patrick Johnston 1-1, Mitch Phillips 2-0, Paul Radford 1-2, Simon Evans 2-2, Mike Collett 2-1, Kevin Fylan 0-1, Miles Evans 1-2, Julien Pretot 1-0, Mark Meadows 0-0, Asia Sports Desk 0-1, Neil Maidment 1-2, Justin Palmer 0-0, Martyn Herman 1-1, Soxley 0-1         ******Stoke City v Wolverhampton Wanderers: Patrick Johnston 3-0, Mitch Phillips 2-0, Paul Radford 2-0, Simon Evans 2-1, Mike Collett 1-1, Kevin Fylan 2-0, Miles Evans 4-1, Julien Pretot 2-1, Mark Meadows 1-1, Asia Sports Desk 1-1, Neil Maidment 3-1, Justin Palmer 3-1, Martyn Herman 0-0, Soxley 0-0******Sunderland v West Ham United: Patrick Johnston 2-1, Mitch Phillips 2-0, Paul Radford 3-1, Simon Evans 2-1, Mike Collett 3-1, Kevin Fylan 0-0, Miles Evans 1-2, Julien Pretot 2-0, Mark Meadows 2-2, Asia Sports Desk 1-1, Neil Maidment 2-2, Justin Palmer 0-1, Martyn Herman 1-2, Soxley 3-2******Manchester United v Blackburn Rovers: Patrick Johnston 2-1, Mitch Phillips 3-1, Paul Radford 1-0, Simon Evans 5-0, Mike Collett 3-0, Kevin Fylan 4-0, Miles Evans 2-0, Julien Pretot 4-0, Mark Meadows 2-0, Asia Sports Desk 3-0, Neil Maidment 3-0, Justin Palmer 3-0, Martyn Herman 1-0, Soxley 2-1          ******Playing on Sunday:*** Birmingham City v Manchester City: Patrick Johnston 0-1, Mitch Phillips 2-1, Paul Radford 0-3, Simon Evans 0-2, Mike Collett 1-1, Kevin Fylan 1-2, Miles Evans 1-2, Julien Pretot 2-2, Mark Meadows 1-2, Asia Sports Desk 0-3, Neil Maidment 1-3, Justin Palmer 1-2, Martyn Herman 0-3, Soxley 1-2******PHOTO: Robbie Keane (L) of Tottenham Hotspur is tackled by Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna during their English Premier League soccer match at White Hart Lane in London February 8, 2009. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Johnson can provide home comfort Liverpool need

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Last season, Liverpool dropped too many points against teams from the bottom half of the table and finally it cost them that long awaited title.

It may well be, then, that the signing of the impressive, energetic Glen Johnson at full-back turns out to be a more significant bit of transfer business than the much criticised decision to sell Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid.

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